back to article You GNOME it: Windows and Apple devs get a compelling reason to turn to Linux

The biggest open source story of 2017 was unquestionably Canonical's decision to stop developing its Unity desktop and move Ubuntu to the GNOME Shell desktop. What made the story that much more entertaining was how well Canonical pulled off the transition. Ubuntu 17.10 was quite simply one of the best releases of the year and …

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  1. frank ly Silver badge

    snap/flatpak/.appimage

    I've been using .appimage excecutables for a while now, which are essentially unmanaged (at the user end) self-contained applications with no dependencies on installed libraries, etc. Does anyone know if there are major technical or security differences between snap, flatpak and .appimage applications?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

      Well for one thing you will have a lot less spare space - every image will contain its own libraries so there will be multiple copies of them rather than the single one that is really needed and that leads on to the problem of security - when a security problem is found normally the library would be updated and all will be well but every image will have to be updated and then tested and then downloaded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

        Yep, it's like throwing away all the goodness of package management and open source to go full Windows. At best, it allows developers to install parallel versions, at it's worse it's how to wrap up a massive mess so you don't have to sort it out. Just give the mess to everyone in a container! Thus solving the problem forever...FOREVER!

    2. teknopaul Bronze badge

      Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

      Major technical difference is no access to the filesystem. Its a dealbreaker for me.

      Unix = everything is a file.

      You get /var/snap and thats it. So you cant write an editor for example.

      No access to /proc to check memory usage etc etc.

      Also the permissions system is really stupidly restrictive, and worse its getting more restrictive not less.

      Like that kernel fiasco recently where linus had a rant about sectypes breaking stuff by default. Snap is tha problem multiplied by one thousand.

      1. tekHedd

        Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

        "You get /var/snap and thats it."

        Flatpak can have similar issues. I've been using monodevelop in flatpak, and it includes /usr/bin/perl, which hides the system /usr/bin/perl with external commands, which means I can't use any CPAN modules. Whatever the app packager decides in terms of sandboxing, that's what you're stuck with as an end user.

        For now, I still think AppImage kicks flatpak's butt all over the place. I suppose that could change now that it's trendy. :/

        1. MyffyW Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

          I love IKEA, but I'm not sure flatpack is always the answer ....

          [mines the red duffel coat with the marmalade sandwich in each pocket]

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

      "You GNOME it: Windows and Apple devs get a compelling reason to turn to Linux "

      "Canonical pulled Ubuntu 17.10 downloads from its website last month due to a "bug" that could corrupt BIOS settings on some laptops. "

      This must be some use of the word compelling that I was previously unaware of. Pretty much no one uses Linux on a desktop unless they have to.

      1. auspex

        Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

        Really? Even my computerly-challenged wife installed Ubuntu on her machine _without my help!_

        1. Field Commander A9

          Re: snap/flatpak/.appimage

          Really? Even my computerly-challenged wife installed Ubuntu on her machine _without my help!_

          These kind of users are better of with an iPad Pro than an actual PC.

  2. nematoad Silver badge
    WTF?

    Discuss

    "...making GNOME Shell the de facto standard Linux desktop."

    Citation required.

    Looking on Distrowatch Ubuntu is sitting on 1490 hits per day whereas Linux Mint is on 2615 and I don't suppose that many people running Mint are using anything other than Cinnamon or Mate.

    This piece sound like a panegyric to Gnome and I for one would like the figures to back up the author's statements.

    1. m3l7

      Re: Discuss

      Are you basing your statements on distrowatch clicks? lol

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Discuss

        "Are you basing your statements on distrowatch clicks? lol"

        Do you have an alternative source?

      2. oneguycoding

        Re: Discuss

        Heh heh, yeah, (s)he wants numbers dammit! Even if it's distrowatch that is being used as the benchmark for desktop installs.

        If I wanted to live in 2003 I'd definitely be settling on Mint or Cinnamon.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: live in 2003

          Last sane versions of Windows, (server 2003), MS Office. Nokia Communicator not quite dead, they might have gone with S80 / Crystal / Touch instead of S60 abomination.

          1600 x 1200 4:3 LCDs on Laptops and better.

          What is so great about 2007 to 2017 in the world and IT?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Discuss

      "I don't suppose that many people running Mint are using anything other than Cinnamon or Mate"

      KDE

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Cinnamon or Mate, not just Gnome

      Linux Mint (18.3) now has flatpacks on Mate. I think Cinnamon too.

      It's #1 on Distrowatch and Ubuntu is #4.

      Gnome is probably possible on Mint, but it's not a default option.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Discuss

      "This piece sound like a panegyric to Gnome"

      right, and I was thinking about Mate (and why I use Mate instead of Gnome 3) while reading it...

      Cinnamon seems to have the best "windows-like" appearance, and Mate the best overall [my $.10 worth]. Gnome 3 is what the millenial "shove it up your rectum" types *FEEL* we should have. Same *kinds* of people seem to drive Firef*x Australis and Chrome's UI.

      nevermind "the rest of us" particularly power users...

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: Discuss

        > Gnome 3 is what the millenial "shove it up your rectum" types *FEEL* we should have

        With the possible exception of the now-defunct Unity, Gnome 3 (specifically, its front-end, Gnome Shell) is the worst desktop available to Linux users. Windows 8 brought the same kind of uselessness to Microsoft's clientele.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Discuss

        "Cinnamon seems to have the best "windows-like" appearance"

        My car has the best 'crash like' brakes available...

    5. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Discuss

      Don't get me wrong, Gnome is a fine desktop. But having used a lighter desktop (LXDE) on my carry-anywhere laptop I rather appreciate the "let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom" approach.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Death by 100 distributions

      Looking on Distrowatch Ubuntu is sitting on 1490 hits per day whereas Linux Mint is on 2615

      Maybe looking at distrowatch regularly signifies that you're not happy with your OS and are thinking of switching?

      Mint = 2617

      Ubuntu = Ubuntu + Lubuntu + Ubuntu MATE + Xubuntu + Ubuntu Budgie + Kubuntu + Ubuntu Studio + Emmabuntüs + Ubuntu DP = 3438

      PS. Am typing this on Mint MATE.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

    Don't worry, they'll tell you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

      Not sure why you typed the word "Arch" in the middle of that sentence....

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

      Based on the comments here, it's the same for Mint.

      Hint for above poster: DistroWatch users are a self-selecting subset of Linux users primarily interested in which distro they're using. Everyone else just wants something that works reasonably well and doesn't feel the need to bang on about it.

      1. detuur
        Linux

        Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

        Literally no one of the daily Linux users I know, all Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and even Arch/Gentoo users, really pays attention to distrowatch (or even knows what it is). Mint being popular on distro watch says just one thing, which is that it's popular with distrowatch frequenters.

        The most popular distro on 4chan's /g/ is Gentoo but you don't see me peddling that as some kind of proof that it's the most popular distro _out there_.

        1. 'andsorfme'andle

          Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

          "Literally no one of the daily Linux users I know, all Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and even Arch/Gentoo users, really pays attention to distrowatch (or even knows what it is). Mint being popular on distro watch says just one thing, which is that it's popular with distrowatch frequenters."

          I used Fedora for years - Fedora 5? being the first. Eventually I did get a little tired of issues/problems, and, having consulted Distrowatch and a few other sites, where the general advice seemed to be "if you want it to just work, use Mint" - I switched to Mint, and have had far fewer issues (on the same hardware).

          YMMV.

          Depends what you are after....

      2. FIA

        Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

        Hint for above poster: DistroWatch users are a self-selecting subset of Linux users primarily interested in which distro they're using. Everyone else just wants something that works reasonably well and doesn't feel the need to bang on about it.

        It's not a very good hint though as they were just asking for some evidence to backup the assertion that Gnome is the de facto standard Linux desktop.

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

      How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

      Don't worry, they'll tell you.

      9 out of 10 Arch users will tell you to Read the Manual first, though.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: How do you know if someone uses Arch Linux?

        > 9 out of 10 Arch users will tell you to Read the Manual first

        ...and rightly so.

  4. joma0711

    I have to say I only moved permanently to linux desktop (having been a linux server wrangler for a decade or so) when i found the cinammon and mate desktops. Thank you Mint project :-)

    custom centos build for sure, but cinnamon on hardware and mate on interactive VMs every time. I look at gnome every few months, but it still looks like a poor win 8.1 shell clone to me...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I look at gnome every few months, but it still looks like a poor win 8.1 shell clone to me."

      I thought that was Unity.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Unity would be a "poor win 8.0 clone"

        (or maybe the other way around? I think Unity came first...)

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        I think that's right. Windows 8 (and beyond) seems to have borrowed many of its worst aspects from Unity. Fair disclaimer, though -- I absolutely hate Unity, but merely strongly dislike Gnome.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      KDE on hardware, bash on VMs here.

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

    Colour me unconvinced. Gnome is years behind all the other major GUI systems and isn't even that popular among Linux diehards – not that these are the people who do lots of GUI development.

    Now, Android on a desktop is a more interesting and likely development.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

      With you until you got to Android. Android? Seriously?

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        Android?

        It looks nice and is OK for a phone. Poor on a large tablet. Erratic application support for printing and external storage. They are gradually getting actual GUI features (not appearance) to about the level of Win 3.1 / Win95.

        A USB ethernet dongle works on DHCP, but no interface to settings on any Android version I have.

        Android is a work in progress, permanently in Beta. The Android TV seems designed for people at a desk using a 24" HD screen and only apps and streaming. The program guide too small font, sorting stations (esp on built in sat tuners) a disaster and GUI generally puts broadcast use & input selection far less important than streaming/apps. It's no use on a 50" 4K TV at 2m viewing distance (average bed or lounge settee viewing).

        Also the Google T&C you MUST agree to on Android TV before tuning are probably illegal in EU.

        Android is increasingly Google Spyware (as is Chrome Browser, Google Analytics, Chrome OS). They don't need streetview WiFi slurp now.

        Android is a GUI for Mobile gadgets & essentially Google controlled Apps (Their version of Java on their version of JVM, Davik). The underlying OS is based on Linux based on Linux Kernel.

        Android and Chrome OS are inferior to Linux and ANY decent GUI/Desktop. Both assume the Cloud. I'd prefer Linux on any 7" HD or larger tablet, especially if using to create content, rather than purely consume.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        With you until you got to Android. Android? Seriously?

        Well, only in the sense that we'll probably seem more desktop systems with Android than Linux ones. We all know it isn't ready for prime time yet but it has the advantage of the apps: want MS Word on a non-MS machine? Well, with Android you can have it. I also think we'll see Samsung developing and pushing DeX for enterprise. This won't suit everyone but I think the market is big enough for Samsung to want to continue it.

        Google is also, of course, trying to merge the castrated Chrome OS with Android for the kidz but it probably won't be until Fuchsia is around that we'll see what's really possible. 'Course Fuchsia might remove much of the remaining ties to Linux…

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

          I think the clue to the purpose of Fuchsia is in the name.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        "Android? Seriously?"

        ACK - the button-icon-menu (think 'Unity' yeah) interface that 'droid is famous for works very well on phones and devices (like slabs) without keyboards. Once you have a mouse and keyboard, it *STINKS*.

        Apple has OS/X _and_ iOS with different interfaces that make sense for the use case. "Everybody Else" (Especially Micro-shaft) needs to STOP IT with the "one interface" crap.

        If 'droid had a MATE-LIKE interface on the desktop, though, I'd be VERY happy with it! That assumes it's not 2D FLATSO. 2D FLATSO is a _major_ DEAL BREAKER with me. But Google has a history of that with Chrome. So I doubt their internal culture of arrogance would excrete ANYTHING ELSE...

      4. timrichardson

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        I'm a lot, lot less sceptical about Android on the desktop after being the owner of a recent Chromebook. Most reviews of Android on Chromebooks are lukewarm, and I didn't expect to find more than a curiosity, but the actual experience has been very good. Highly stable, and very usfeul.

      5. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        I left Gnome when it started to turn into TouchWiz on a desktop. Maybe that's improved now, but it wasn't so much the look, it was that if you tried to suggest usability wasn't perfect or some things were steps backwards then you were WRONG and they were RIGHT. Don't miss that much.

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

      More to the point:

      "Combine a de facto standard desktop with a standard means of packaging applications and you have a platform that's just as easy to develop for as any other, say Windows or macOS."

      The real question is, will it be as easy to USE as the others? Because, if the words "apt-get" or "go to the command line and type..." appear anywhere in standard user documentation then we can be fairly sure that "The Year of Linux on the Desktop" will, once again, be "Not This Year".

      1. Chemist

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        "Because, if the words "apt-get" or "go to the command line and type...""

        If you don't want to use the command-line use a distro where you don't have to - there are plenty available. Ditto with updates

        1. auspex

          Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

          > If you don't want to use the command-line use a distro where you don't have to

          Which would be pretty well all of them. But he has a point. While you can install your software from a GUI interface on every Linux desktop I know of, we don't generally put that in the documentation, because there are so _many_ ways to do it. It's cleaner to specify apt, or yum, or the package manager of choice, from a CLI.

      2. nijam Silver badge

        Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

        So, exactly how is "apt" (apt-get is obsolete, obviously) any worse than the maze of cryptically-named menu entries you have to navigate through to make Windows update (or, more importantly these days, *not* update)?

        I ask out of interest, but as I write this, I realise I won't get an interesting answer.

        1. Naselus Silver badge

          Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

          "So, exactly how is "apt" (apt-get is obsolete, obviously) any worse than the maze of cryptically-named menu entries you have to navigate through to make Windows update (or, more importantly these days, *not* update)?"

          It involves typing, and remembering a command-line input that isn't basic spoken English. This is literally a deal-breaker to 90% of the computer-using population.

          The inability of most Linux users to accept this is one of the reasons why the YOLOTD never comes.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

            Most of the time it involves copy-paste, as opposed to typing.

            The only typing would be to input your password for "sudo".

            I find this much faster than following directions on what menus to open in Windows (version dependent, not to mention language dependent).

            Granted, I know the shell well enough to be able to identify if the command line is legit. This is where trusted sources of advice comes in. (Not that different from when using Windows. Don't do whatever someone on YouTube says will be great.)

        2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

          Re: So, 2018 will be the year of the Linux desktop because of Gnome?

          "So, exactly how is "apt" (apt-get is obsolete, obviously) any worse than the maze of cryptically-named menu entries you have to navigate through to make Windows update (or, more importantly these days, *not* update)?"

          Basically, if you want Linux to become more than a niche OS -- and I'm assuming here that you are comfortable with the command line and likely comfortable building computers and/or modifying system files to get your machine to work just the way you want it -- you need it to meet potential users where THEY are, rather than making them come to where YOU are. Would they be more competent and independent computer users if they knew more about their machine's internals? Probably so, but they wouldn't necessarily be HAPPIER, and people want to use their machines -- be they computers, cars, or cook-stoves -- to perform the tasks that THEY want to do to make themselves happier. There is a reason that most modern microwave ovens come with a "one touch = one minute on high power" button or a "Popcorn" button, as well as the plethora of settings for time, power intensity, etc. It's because most people just want to be able to heat something for three minutes and enjoy it in as easy a manner as possible. It's why car manufacturers figured out how to provide automatic starters, spark-timing, and shifting; because most people just wanted to GO somewhere with minimal effort. The enthusiast who enjoys tinkering under the hood has his place, but he is NOT the mass market. The mass of computer users just want to be able to shop online, email their friends, and maybe see the video of the new grandkid. They don't want to tinker under the hood, they don't want to learn a new language, and -- with rare exceptions -- they don't think that doing either of those will make them happier.

          I used to work in tech documentation. Among other gigs, I worked for an -- at the time -- Fortune 400 computer manufacturer, for a networking hardware startup, and for an automobile-security accessory manufacturer. And in literally EVERY case, the project engineers were convinced that their designs were so intuitively obvious that documentation wasn't necessary. (Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed!) People who are highly technically literate in a particular field often forget that not everyone is nor cares to be and often forget their stumbling early days ("It's all so SIMPLE once you get used to it!"). But those latter "I just want to do 'X'," people are the ones who will take a product mass-market. The technical leader -- the explorer -- has to be the first out into the frontier, but if the greater population -- the homesteaders, if you will -- choose not to follow because the explorer insists that the only way to go is on foot with a bedroll, a frying pan, and a knife, the migration into the new land will be stalled before it starts.

          That is where the larger take-up of the Linux desktop has stalled. The mass market doesn't want to worry about WHICH "repository" they need to go to to get an application ("A 'repository...?' Isn't that one of those things Gramps used to use when he couldn't go...?"); they want to go to THE app store. The. The One. The Only One. Sneer at the Apple "Walled Garden" all you want but, with their App Store, as long as you know WHAT you want to do, they made it just about as easy to find and get a HOW that'll do it as it is possible to get. And they don't want to know from "dependencies", "SUDO", or anything else that gets between their "what" and their "how"; they just want to do their "what".

          Don't assume that they're stupid; in general, they're at least smart enough to judge whether a tool will let them do their what as easily as possible -- by THEIR terms -- and go elsewhere if it won't.

          "I ask out of interest, but as I write this, I realise I won't get an interesting answer."

          Sorry to be boring.

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